Since the board needs to vote on enrollment policies (boundaries) and transportation policies for the two new schools, Isabella Bird and High Tech Elemenary, those issues need to be decided. The board is now scheduled to vote on those and other Stapleton enrollment policies at their December meeting (instead of on November 21), allowing time for additional community input.
Dear Stapleton-area families:
Thank you to everyone who took the time to raise questions and share their ideas and concerns about proposed changes to the elementary enrollment system in the Stapleton area. We wanted to provide you with an update based on feedback we heard at the five school-based meetings on Wednesday night and let you know about next steps in the process.
Process Update — More Time Needed
One of the main things we heard was that community members needed more time to discuss alternatives and pros and cons of any proposal. As such, we will not be making any proposals to our Board of Education next week. It is our current intent to make a recommendation to our Board in December, with a Board vote currently scheduled for December 19.
We are hosting a community meeting Tuesday, November 19 at 6:00pm in the Bill Roberts Cafetorium (2100 Akron Way). The meeting on Tuesday will discuss multiple approaches and alternatives, have time for Q&A, and move to a special public comment session with Board of Education members present (limited to 1 hour). Going forward, we will also:
- Encourage each school’s Collaborative School Council to discuss the topic in the coming weeks.
- Have at least one additional community-wide meeting before the December recommendation to the Board.
- Offer an additional opportunity for public comment before the Board of Education on December 19 before the vote.
To provide background information to community members who were not part of the Stapleton United Neighbors (SUN) led discussions since June or who may not have been able to make the meetings this past Wednesday, click here for the presentation and the notes from those meetings.
Focus of Upcoming Conversations:
First of all, we want to make clear that none of the proposals around elementary enrollment policies would affect students currently enrolled in DPS schools in the Stapleton area or their siblings. The proposed changes would only apply to future area DPS students.
Based on the feedback at Wednesday’s meetings, we look forward to discussing multiple approaches and alternatives on two key issues:
- The level of proximity zone preference (ie, should it be at the 25% level recommended by SUN or the 50% level suggested by DPS); and
- Whether there should be a respective preference for Stapleton-area families north and south of I-70 to elementary schools north and south of I-70.
We look forward on Tuesday and beyond to hearing community discussion on both these questions. We understand the importance and the significance of the two competing values: the value of proximity (i.e., that families who live in the neighborhood closest to a school should receive greater preference to that school) and open choice (i.e., that the opportunity for families to choose any school within Stapleton is more important than geographic proximity). We know there is no easy answer to this and look forward to the discussion of what the appropriate balance should be between these two values.
Finally, we plan on discussing transportation in the upcoming meetings. We appreciate the broad support in the community around the need to limit increases in transportation costs that are taking much-needed money away from schools and classrooms. We do feel it is important that, complementary to the future enrollment policy, we adopt the transportation policy revisions that were outlined this week:
- Provide transportation to students attending their proximity zone school who live outside the walk zone or students unable to attend their proximity zone school, but attend another Stapleton school more than 1 mile away.
- Do not support providing transportation across I-70 except for families North of I-70 with students in grades not served by High Tech.
We still believe it is important to make certain decisions ahead of our school choice process in December because:
- High Tech Elementary will be opening this coming fall and Isabella Bird will be moving to a new location. There are open questions around enrollment priorities and transportation for both schools.
- We continue to see decreases in the percentage of families accessing their first choice school, and particularly, their closest elementary school.
- The need to limit rising transportation costs (that are nearly double that of other Denver neighborhoods) that are diverting much needed resources from schools and classrooms.
In addition, based on feedback, we are taking off the table for this year two ideas that were proposed earlier this week:
- That we should implement an automatic increase in the level of proximity zone preference in future years; and
- That ECE should have a higher proximity zone preference than kindergarten through fifth grade.
We thank you again for your interest in your community schools and look forward to further discussing these issues further with you.